The National Trust: Better without Barclays Bank
Guest post by Drew James, Co-ordinator for the National Trust Better without Barclays campaign
Update 18 November 2022: Read about what happened at the AGM
Take a moment to consider this: It is a twist of irony that Europe’s largest conservation charity banks with Europe’s largest bankroller of fossil fuel emissions.
Christian climate campaigners have tabled a resolution for November’s Annual General Meeting of the National Trust. It calls on the Trust to cease banking with Barclays if the bank fails to adopt a radical policy of fossil fuel divestment.
Voting papers, with a supporting statement will be posted to the Trust’s 5.5 million members as an insert to their autumn magazine. Trust members are asked to look out for it and to vote for the resolution by post or online. The full resolution and statement are printed below.
A large response will send a message that is loud and clear. Please spread word of this in your churches, community networks and on social media. You are welcome to copy and alter this post as a magazine article. You might also want to add these words, and the image at the top, as a “signature” to your emails:
National Trust members please vote at this year’s AGM for the NT to cease banking with Barclays Bank. They are Europe’s largest bankroller of climate changing fossil fuel emissions.
The campaign is looking for people to pledge their support and commit to urging National Trust members to use their vote when voting papers are circulated with the National Trust Autumn magazine.
“The proposers call upon the National Trust to conclude all banking, financial arrangements and ties with Barclays Bank plc (with the exception of existing credit agreements) by 28th February 2024. This should take effect unless the bank adopts a published policy statement and undertaking that before the 1st January 2030 it will cease dealing with, lending to, or investing in any commercial client in the Energy or Power sectors which derives more than 10% of turnover from fossil fuels or the exploration thereof. The National Trust will not hereafter agree any new banking or other arrangement with any financial institution which has not subscribed to a similar published policy statement and undertaking”
Supporting Statement sent to the NT in May:
This resolution builds on the principled stand that our National Trust took in 2019 to withdraw investments from fossil fuel companies. If approved at AGM, and accepted by the Board of Trustees, the Trust will stay with Barclays Bank provided they adopt a targeted ethical investment policy within the next financial year.
The reference to “10% fossil fuels” mirrors the condition the Trust fixed for investment policy from 2019 onwards
The reference to “Energy or Power” reflects the importance of these sectors in Barclays portfolio and their role in the Climate Emergency
Our National Trust is Europe’s largest conservation charity and is universally respected. It exists because we the members care about the environment and the lessons history bestows. The Trust has a diligence for getting things right and is one of those few UK institutions that still represents our sense of moral integrity.
This contrasts sharply with Barclays Bank which is Europe’s largest financier of fossil fuel investments. (Go online to view “Banking on Climate Chaos 2022” or Daily Telegraph of 21/03/2021). Since the Paris climate summit of 2015 Barclays have bankrolled greenhouse gas emissions by investing £136,000,000,000 in fossil fuels.
To put it politely, the Trust’s relationship with Barclays Bank is deeply embarrassing.
Greenhouse gases are driving extreme weather events, heat stressed ecology, rising oceans and failure of agriculture.
In 2021 the UN Secretary-General declared a “Code Red for humanity” and in April 2022 the International Panel on Climate Change declared that greenhouse gas emissions would have to peak “before 2025 at the latest and be reduced by 43 per cent by 2030” to limit global warming to around 1.5C above pre-industrial levels
It is shameful that the Trust banks with a business for whom “diligence” absolutely requires maximum shareholder profit. Barclays invest in fossil fuels despite the mayhem caused to creation’s fragile ecology, and which is a stark reality in sub-Saharan Africa and for indigenous communities across the globe.
The Trust has rightly been vocal over the Climate Emergency and has pursued a policy of engagement, agitation and complaint with industry, banks and investors, and supported companies in climate transition. It joined the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change in 2020 and, impatient with government indifference, joined the Climate Coalition in 2021. The Trust website says: “We’re… putting pressure on the Government to adopt policies that will help us all look after the places you love to visit”
Despite the clamour for transition, investment in new fossil fuel extraction continues apace. We call on the Trust to use its good name and financial leverage to challenge Barclays over their investment targets for 2025 and 2030
Climate impact on Trust property prompted a survey of members in February 2022 about a proposed request for new funds for mitigation projects. It is unconscionable that mitigation funds may be banked with a business complicit in the degradation of Trust lands and properties.
A vote for the Resolution is a vote for the Trust’s strategy: “For everyone and For ever”
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Comments on "The National Trust: Better without Barclays Bank"
Hi Im with extinction rebellion and we are planning some non-disruptive outreach at the AGM in support of this resolution Hope this is OK? Feel free to get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi Sue, there's a couple of groups that will answer this....go here to find them! https://greenchristian.org.uk/how-green-is-your-money/
Do you have a suggestion as to which bank National Trust should use instead of Barclays?